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Is This The Safari Build To End All Safari Builds?

Kelly Moss has a penchant for building over-the-top Porsches. When they aren’t racing in GT3 Cup, they’ve lately been spending their energies on trying to outdo the entire world of Safari-style 911s. This time, they may have gone to a new level. This car, the car they’re calling Willy Safari, is built for all-out off-road domination. It stands about as tall as your average house, jacked up on huge off road tires and mega compliant suspension. It looks like it could just about drive over anything. How much of the original 911 is left? Well, watch the video and see for yourself.

In this newest episode of Larry Chen’s Autofocus vlog, he heads to the desert of SoCal with Jeff Zwart, Will Roegge, and the Kelly Moss folks for a few hours of ripping around in the dirt. As you can see in the image of the video above, the rearward weight bias and the huge suspension travel means it’s pretty easy to lift a front wheel while in a slide. That in and of itself is about the most radical thing you can do with an offroad 911. It rips and grips. I love it.

Would you do this to your 911?


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Ride Onboard For Some Silky Smooth Laps in a Track-Spec 996 GT3 at Road America

Photos & video courtesy of Ryan Gates/311RS, LLC.

With the right modifications, the 996 GT3 becomes a car that will sway the most skeptical, please the frigid, and bring out the best in the timid. Not that it was slow from the factory, but with some talented tuners and a skilled set of hands making the most out of the least loved of the GT lineup, we see that it—like every other member of its purebred stable—is made for carving quick laps and stretching smiles.

Minneapois-based motorsports design firm 311RS is responsible for making this GT3 into something capable of cracking off consistent laps in the 2:26-range. They spared no expense here, starting with JRZ-RS Pro coilovers with custom 311RS damping. ERP arms and solid bushings came next, and the suspension maximizes the footprint made by the 311RS-spec BBS E88 18×9″ & 18×11.5″ wheels wrapped in Michelin Sport Cup 2s.

With roughly 400 horsepower courtesy of a Cup exhaust, BMC filters, an IPD plenum, and a tune, it’s definitely rapid and needs serious stopping power. The brakes, still factory reds, use Girodisc rotors, Pagid Yellow pads, and stainless lines. For a track as fast as Road America with heavy braking zones, these bring the ~3,000-lb GT3 to a stop. On that note—they trimmed a little heft by removing the airbags, sun visors, glove box, front console, and head unit. It’s a track special, no doubt.

More than its straightline speed and its stopping ability, this GT3’s stability and responsive front end are its most impressive features. Rather than some frightening, hair-trigger monster, it’s composed and neutral, especially in high speed corners. Granted, Ryan Gates has the deft touch of an experienced driver, but no wiggling under braking, no mild corrections in the quick stuff, and only a hint of oversteer on turn-in proves 311RS really dialed it in. Perhaps a more aggressive driver would bring out its fangs, but Gates is still clicking off quick times with a very economical, subdued style.

Perhaps the large RS wing at the rear must help there, and the broad front splitter can’t hurt. Clearly, it’s a reassuring car with balance, braking performance, and punch enables Gates to charge without breaking a sweat and reel in some 991s. Note the distance he gains in braking and entry speed through the daunting Turn 11, known as the Kink (6:54). There, you want a car to sit nicely lest you leave a big black streak along the outside wall.


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A Surplus of Tech and Performance: Has Porsche Gone Too Far?

Clarksonian excess is positively joyous on paper, and the items that grab review headlines trend towards both the extreme and the concrete. Everyone with a bit of petrol in their veins knows that 700 horsepower is a lot, and 200 is simply not very many. At the same time, not everyone agrees on what makes a car fun. What works in a headline to bring people in, and what constitutes thoughtful criticism that keeps people reading are not necessarily the same. For that reason the subject of excess in modern Porsches requires further examination. While the sales figures indicate that Porsche has their customer base pretty well nailed, does it necessarily follow that the brand has stayed reasonable and accessible?

Too Fast?

Mr. JWW contends that maybe, for road drivers, Porsche has gone too far. The GT2 RS is designed to work on track, that is part of its very nature. At the same time, the compromises required to make it the fastest production car around the ‘Ring make it almost entirely inaccessible on the street. At its intended purpose the GT2 RS is virtually unrivaled, but on road the edges of the car’s performance envelope become infuriatingly distant.

This isn’t a problem that is unique to the GT2 RS, the GT2 RS is simply emblematic of it. In terms of straight-line speed any 911 will get deep in to triple digits before it feels like it is breathing hard. Despite being significantly more road and comfort oriented than the GT2, both the Turbo and Turbo S still offer more performance in every metric than can be routinely enjoyed out in the world of traffic and rogue deer.

The merits of « slow car fast » are often parroted, but if the majority of your enjoyment comes off-track that does hold a fair amount of water. At road speeds is a GT2 RS more enjoyable than a Carrera Club Sport or a 993 Carrera RS despite how much more performance it offers? Does this prodigious performance mean modern Porsches offer « too much » performance, or is it indicative of users simply refocusing what sort of enjoyment they seek from their cars?

Too Much Tech?

While I am certain that the paragraphs above are going to be somewhat contentious, I don’t think this will: New cars have a lot of tech in them. New Porsches have an extraordinary, and occasionally overwhelming, amount of tech in them. While Porsche clung to their analog roots for an extremely long time, hop in a 996 Carrera and compare the number of toys on offer to a current car, the 992 is a technological marvel of adaptive suspension, rear wheel steering, and programmable drive modes.

While all of these ingredients make the car faster, do they make for a better sports car? Had Porsche not stayed current the brand’s popular sports cars could have become niche curiosities like the eternally-lovable range of Morgans. While many enthusiasts claim to prefer simplicity, the broader market does not follow. The current 911 tries to be all things to all people, and the host contends that in comfort mode the car is decidedly more GT car than outright sports car.

The interior is more complex as well, with an analog rev counter flanked by configurable digital displays at both sides, and a dash-mounted infotainment display of a size that would make an iPad blush. Perhaps all this makes the new 911 more versatile, but does it make for a better sports car? Is it a step too far?


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Porsche Reviews Its Five Greatest American Icons

Just five years after the war ended, Porsche started importing small batches of cars into New York City to plant its feet for the first time on American soil. News traveled quickly on a westward wind and the Californians, free from harsh weather, soon after demanded their own style of Porsche.

Now, ostensibly this video was created as a way for Porsche to celebrate American Independence Day, but there’s never a bad time to check out these totally radical race and road cars with Porsche’s incredibly quick factory racer, Patrick Long. Give it a watch!

356A 1600 S Speedster

We associate the 356A Speedster with those gruff, squinty-eyed men from yesteryear who embodied independence and individuality. Steve McQueen and James Dean, two actors who actually raced Porsches, are forever linked to this gorgeous piece of rolling artistry from half a century ago. Even though it only had ~75 horsepower, its pared-down frame made it quick and relatively cheap. Considering the prices they fetch now, it’s hard to believe that this was once one of the more affordable Porsches around.

964 America Roadster

Fast forward thirty years, and the wide haunches of a Turbo model made its way onto an open-top Carrera for those balmy Los Angeles evenings. With serious performance and a relaxed character, what better car to suit a blitz along Mulholland Drive?

A shape any red-blooded Porschephile would be happy to see.

964 RS America

For those who wanted more for their trips to Willow Springs, Porsche built the 964 RS America. Since us yanks couldn’t get the 964 RS, Porsche answered our track junkies’ calls with the RS America. Stripped and spartan, this 2,975-lb machine offered no frills but plenty of thrills.

917-30 Can-Am

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this gem. A conservative estimate of 800 horsepower, a ferocious power delivery, and less than one ton of weight made this one of the most successful cars ever, and the only car to win Can-Am that wasn’t powered by a Chevrolet engine. Even the driver’s feet were positioned ahead of the front wheels! They were certainly brave back then.

To set a quick lap in of these monsters, one needed a double-dose of courage and a dash of recklessness.


Rounding out this list of greats is the 934.5—the car which ushered turbocharging into American GT racing. Though the 600-hp 934.5 was designed to run in IMSA Group 4, it was banned and instead used in SCCA Trans-Am, where it won 6 of 8 races it competed in. Following in the 917’s footsteps, this beauty changed the direction of American road racing in the 1970s and 1980s. What a wonderful path these cars paved.


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Here’s What It’s Like To Experience A 914-6 For The First Time

Let’s get this out of the way right now- The Straight Pipes got their title wrong. The first mid-engine Porsche was 356-001 from 1948. Indeed, the hosts note that right at the beginning of the video, despite the title. There were also 84 550 Spyders (14 works and 70 customer/road cars), and numerous other race cars prior to the 914. The 914 was the first serial-production, mid-engine Porsche road car, but that makes for a terrible Youtube title, so we’ll have to let that slide.

The 914 is new ground for Yuri and Jakob, as the 1970 914-6 featured in the video is the oldest car they have ever reviewed. It is also a legitimate museum piece belonging to the Porsche museum. To top it off, neither of them has driven a car with a dogleg manual gearbox, and they found some of the 914’s features a bit puzzling. The three-point belts in the silver 914 1.8 featured were especially confusing to the hosts- people our age have all used inertia reel belts and slip-adjust lap belts, but nothing from the last few decades has slip-adjust three point belts. To folks born after about 1970, this sort of restraint is a relative unknown.

The hosts try to stay positive, but it’s clear that the 914 is pretty far out of their comfort zone. The 914’s defining minimalism makes this a tough piece for a pair of reviewers who love to dive in deep. There are almost zero interior features beyond the bare necessities (and you know we like minimalism around here). It’s a sports car, but it doesn’t at all conform to the modern paradigm. It is not particularly fast (even by 1970 standards), the brakes are weak by modern standards, and while they praised the handling and ride, they did mention that the car is quite a bit of work to drive. [Ed. Note: Maybe by comparison to modern cars? I’ve never found 914s to be anything other than a joy.]

To them, it seems that the car is more interesting as a reference point for how far cars have come. It is not an end in and of itself. This is just the beginning of their Porsche experience, however, as the pair are spending some time in Germany driving Porsche cars from Porsche’s private collection. It will be interesting to see what Porsche hands them the keys to next.


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